Riek Machar South Sudan's First Vice President, as United Nations Rejects Kiir Illegal "Appointment"

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Machar-- recognized as South Sudan's legitimate First Vice President by U.N.

Riek Machar is still South Sudan's First Vice President and he can only be replaced under the terms of a July 2015 Peace Agreement which was violated when President Salva Kiir claimed he appointed his successor this week, The United Nations says.

Dr. Machar has also spoken with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon by phone, a U.N. spokesperson told The Black Star News today, ending speculation that he'd been killed by Kiir's forces.

The U.N.'s position is a stinging blow to Kiir who claims Monday he had sworn in Taban Deng Gai as war-torn South Sudan's new First Vice President, replacing Dr. Machar who leads the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)-in-opposition. SPLA leader Kiir claims since Machar withdrew from Juba after fighting erupted between their separate armies earlier this month, other SPLA-in-opposition leaders had nominated Deng Gai to replace him.

Asked whether the United Nations recognized Machar or Deng Gai as South Sudan's First Vice President, the U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq said, "We have made clear that such appointments need to be made in accordance with the provisions of the peace agreement." Section 6.4 of the Peace deal signed last year between Kiir and Machar specifies the circumstances under which the First Vice President in the Transitional National Government of Unity can be replaced, including mental infirmity or incapacitation.

Spokesperson Haq responded "yes," when asked by The Black Star News, "So long as the First Vice President per the Peace Agreement can argue that there's no 'mental infirmity' or 'physical incapacity' it means there's no mental infirmity or physical incapacity?" Kiir plans to send Deng Gai to the United Nations and regional African countries on a public relations blitz, according to an article in The Sudan Tribune, a campaign that could be derailed by the United Nation's rejection of Deng Gai.

Asked whether the U.N. would meet with a delegation led by Deng Gai, spokesperson Haq said: "I won't speculate on what may happen at the General Assembly in September."

(The Black Star News could not get an immediate confirmation from the State Department whether the U.S. similarly recognizes Dr. Machar).

South Sudan was born in 2011, ending decades of bloody war with the Sudan government in Khartoum.

War broke out in December 2013 between Vice President Machar and President Kiir who has military backing of Uganda's dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni. Under pressure from regional African leaders through IGAD as well as threats of sanctions from the U.S, Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal negotiated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


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